Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Announcing Diary of 10,000 Days Blog - On issues well beyond Alaska

The companion blog to Writing from Alaska is now up. It is can be found here, where you can read the first post on why opposing war is not the same thing as making peace, a reflection on President Obama's speech on the Afghanistan war.

Monday, September 7, 2009

THANK YOU Mr. President, and Say NO to bullies NOW

It is time, well actually quite a bit past time, that the hateful, angry and dishonest rhetoric that has surrounded the President's education speech and the debate on health care be called for what it is. The bullying must stop and no longer be rewarded. Reasonable debate must take its place. Now.

This is a plea for all of us to get motivated to change the climate of the debate and not to stop until we can see results. No more complaining - just action. The next time you are tempted to write a comment that shows concern about the flying insults, innuendos and false accusations, I challenge you to follow it up with either a positive letter of support to someone you admire, or to address the issue head on with the news sources who are profiting from publicizing the uproar.

Most of us know that the nonsense, hatred and lies must no longer dominate the debate on the important issues that face us. Discussions on Health Care and whatever new issues that may arise should not be allowed to become the bully pulpit for hate mongering, veiled racism and not so veiled threats against the presidency. We must get vocal, consistent, persistent and visible and stay that way until the nonsense is stopped. Email and call news sources and tell them that the extremist and the nutcases do not represent rational opposing viewpoints on any issue. People who chose to use name calling as a debate method are not relevant. There are other, rational and reasonable people who have good questions to ask and they should be the ones bringing opposing viewpoints to the table. We need all the rational viewpoints to be heard. Not only are we being flooded with useless commentary by those whose only purpose is to weaken Obama's presidency at any cost, we are missing out on hearing from conservative voices who could present points that could and should be considered.

As a starting point, President Obama's speech has been posted on the White House website. As most of us would expect, it is an excellent speech and as previously indicated, focuses on individual responsibility. He encourages kids from all backgrounds, no matter how difficult their situation may be, to take control of their own destinies and write their own story.

Though many people may be out traveling today on the Labor Day holiday, I hope that you will take the time to read the speech, see it, or view it later this week and then send a Thank You note to the President for taking the time to address school children and encourage them. I know his speech will be meaningful to many children all over the country. I am certain that it has the capacity to change lives and help children make the right decisions. It is up to us to create a framework where their good decisions can make a difference, lay the foundation for their efforts to succeed, and nurture the ground where their dreams can take root. Start by showing them that bullies of any age and no matter how influential will not be tolerated.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Word Clouds, sometimes they say it all....

I was reminded to day of word clouds. Here is a word cloud of the post on my Mom's death, Somehow the way the word INSURANCE stands out by itself, and MOTHER is within a tangle of words seemed to reflect the sense I had when writing this post. The words seemed to fall into relationship with each other in a way that was consistent with the emotions I have about the circumstances surrounding her passing.

 Wordle: My Mom's Uninsured Death



(This image is from Wordle - found at http://www.wordle.net/. Images of Wordles are licensed)


The discussion on health care reform continues. No matter what your opinion, please continue to join in the discussion. It is important at this time that we define ourselves as a people who gives careful consideration to substantial issues. We are deciding now what kind of society we will be for the some time to come, certainly at least for the duration of the Obama presidency. The loud, angry, bullying and dishonest voices must not decide for us who will be. No matter what kind of health care bill we get, they are not the people who have any right to effect the outcome. Speak up, be heard.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bloggers, Obama, Health Care and How my Mother Passed Away.

When I saw that President Obama had asked bloggers to help spread the word on health care I realized I have an experience to share. I have done without health insurance most of my adult life, and I have been fortunate. What few ailments I had were comparatively easy to deal with and most didn't require a doctor as I was lucky enough to make use of the knowledge of a good herbalist for most things. Fortunately for me, that was a successful option. But the experience with lack of medical insurance that matters in the current debate is the death of my mother some 17 years ago.

In the fall of 1991 my mother started having symptoms that indicated something was seriously wrong. She was living in the Southwest, and I was on the West Coast some 2,000 miles away. Our frequent phone calls began to include her concerns about not being able to walk up the three steps from her living room to the raised patio. She could only leave her house by the side door where there were no steps. She had great difficulty in getting into the truck my dad drove, so she began to stay at home more and more. She told me of leaning over to feed the cat and falling down. She had to drag herself to the couch to get back on her feet. During the weeks that these events transpired, I kept asking her to go see a doctor, but she was concerned that she and my dad had no health insurance. She was in her early 60's and just two years short of qualifying for Medicaid. Now, looking back, it seems that whatever was happening to her body was also effecting her thinking. Her outlook was narrow and she couldn't seem to understand the implications of letting such serious issues go undiagnosed and untreated.

My parents hadn't always lacked health insurance, in fact at one time they had excellent coverage. My dad had a good job, great benefits and the promise of a good retirement. All that disappeared when the company he worked for changed hands. The new owners laid off all the workers and then rehired some, and released others from their positions. Just a few years short of retirement, my dad was one of the people who was not rehired. After working in a supervisory position, he went back to the kind of work he was doing when he and my mother were young. He cut firewood, he drove a snow plow, and he drove a delivery truck. It was hard work, long hours and difficult working conditions, but he did it. After a few years, they sold the house and land they owned and moved to another state. They bought a place where they could have their own small business and owned the house outright in a short time. But they were still without health insurance or any significant source of income. The loss of my dad's job left them without any of the benefits they had planned on and worked for. So, when my mother began showing signs of illness, it seems they just kept hoping it would go away. My mother kept repeating that she couldn't go to the doctor because of the expense.

Finally, one of my mom's long time best friends talked her into going to see an acupuncturist in a nearby city. After a quick exam, the acupuncturist insisted she see a regular doctor and referred her to someone he knew. The doctor in short order told my family that she believed that my mother had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Arrangements were made for her to have tests done at a local university teaching hospital, but the tests were scheduled for several weeks in advance. By now, she was using a wheelchair and was having trouble combing her hair and taking care of herself. My dad dedicated himself to her total care.

In early May, my mother was admitted to the hospital. Already anxious and by this time quite weak, the MRI's and other procedures were extremely difficult for her. She was the only case of diagnosed ALS in the hospital and her attending physician couldn't seem to resist the temptation to make her an exhibit for touring interns, even if she was sleeping or needed quiet time in her room. After a few days, her doctor told her she might as well go home and that he only expected her to live another 3 days. My dad requested an ambulance to take her the two-hour drive back to the house. Knowing that my parents had no insurance, the doctor would not write an order for an ambulance instead his suggestion was that we rent a station wagon and let her lie down in the back. Fortunately for our family, some of my Dad's siblings had come in to help and to spend time with my mother. They paid for an ambulance to take her back to home. She died there three days later.

To this day, I don't know if she really needed to die when the doctor told her she would. She was so emotionally distraught from the illness and suffered from such great anxiety over the rapid changes in her body, that his prognosis may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy. To this day I don't know if my mother was diagnosed correctly. Though some of her symptoms seemed to coincide with those of ALS patients, she also exhibited symptoms and changes in her symptoms that didn't follow the pattern, only one of which is that ALS patients were generally expected to live for two to ten years after the onset of symptoms. My mother died within seven months from when she first began to notice the intial weakness in her legs and ankles. Once she was gone, I really didn't want to know if there was another explanation. What if we found out it was a mistake? How much harder would that be to bear?

So, if it is possible that she would have been treated with more thorough and considerate care if she had health insurance, we can talk about that. If it is possible that someone else won't be hurried out of the hospital to die and told to go home lying down in the back of a station wagon because they don't have health insurance, we can talk about that, too. If it is possible that her diagnosis, treatment and outcome would have been different if she had health insurance, that I can't talk about, but I really hope you will.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Palin Resigns - World Outbreak of Palinresignationism, New Health Disorder

Palinresignationism: Origins, Symptoms and Treatment Regimes


Symptoms and Presenting Pathologies:

This new malady is now manifest among a good portion of media outlets of all kinds in the United States and to some extent, media around the world. The disorder has now infected the general population. They outbreaks are most apparent anywhere groups of news consuming individuals may be found. It is general knowledge among health professionals and researchers that this new and rapidly spreading disorder first surfaced at a small and restricted gathering in a small town in Alaska on July 3, 2009. Due to the high transmission level of the disease, it spread immediately to populations across the country and infected pockets of international populations as well.

Symptoms present themselves differently according to predisposed factors in those who fall victim to the disorder. For some it brings on intense euphoria, for others it manifests in mild depression, with intermittent bouts of delusions about the future.

In all subjects, Palinresignationism has been found to bring about at least some degree of confusion, ranging from mild puzzlement to extreme degrees of distress. It also seems to include a pin point focus on a single topic, which induces belief in an exaggerated relevance of its importance.

Additional symptoms are once again predicated by various preexisting conditions and may include strong bouts of rationalization and/or illusions about the future. Many subjects have an extreme desire to prognosticate about future events and display a desire to speak publicly and authoritatively on this topic. This manifestation of the disease is generally accompanied by some degree of false confidence and bravado.

Treatment:

Authoritative professionals and researchers are still uncertain about how to best control this outbreak. Some efforts are being made to diminish its effects by extreme exposure to various forms of the disease in the hope that the cure may be found within the pathology of the disease itself. However, for some who have fallen prey to this disorder, further extreme exposure is likely to bring about lingering and possibly permanent damage. The time lost in pursuing this course if it is ineffective can have disastrous consequences.

A new and radical treatment regime, not yet accepted by a number of mainstream practitioners, is to consciously increase availability of alternative health options. These practices are consistent with the most basic expectations for healthy living conditions such as providing clean water, appropriate nutrition, shelter and breathable air. This treatment involves a concerted effort by victims of this disorder to exercise and expand their awareness of alternative behaviors. Most of these simple exercises include increasing the subjects visual field and consequently increase mental awareness of a broader perspectives. This seemingly simple and alternative solution is considered by some as having no relevance in the practice of professional health care. However, as has been found in treatment of other diseases, a simple change in diet and lifestyle have been highly effective proactive measures eliminating the need for other extreme treatments, procedures or need for medications in the future.

The disease is dissipating rapidly where subjects have been successful in following this simple regime. As noted above, high dosages of Palinresignationism are almost certain to have a continuing negative effect, however, it has been shown that limited, intermittent and discreet exposure to Palinresignationism may be advisable in order to avoid outbreaks of this disease in new and as yet undiscovered forms.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Visiting with the Neighbors at C4P

Recently there has been considerable dialogue between some of the followers of Mudflats and Celtic Diva with commentors and bloggers at the site Conservatives for (oops - make that 4) Palin. The discussion was initially prompted by mutual agreement on the virtues of the First Amendment and the rights and privileges of anonymity. It wasn't long before the battles renewed, with occasional acknowledgments of a good point or an appreciation of respectful exchanges. This was the second time there has been a brief ceasefire to salute our common right of anonymous free speech. The first time was when the Mudflats writer was 'outed' against her will. At C4P I joined the foray for a while and did gain some significant insight.

Right after the election, I was sure the best way to proceed positively was to find ways to bridge the differences between all of us. I even put up another blog site just to serve the purpose of collecting stories about how we would accomplish such a lofty goal. There is still a link to it here in the side bar - I named it Visions Beyond Divisions - well, it has sat there, lonely and unvisited ever since. Actually, I think two or three of my closest friends might have looked at it. Other than that it has been deserted. And why? Perhaps we thrive better on conflict and perhaps conflict is what will ultimately bring us together to work things out. It has always been a miss-perception that attaining peace is a neat and tidy process. As people our thoughts and processes are messy, and making peace is messy, too. As events develop and we are forced to see where our opponents were either more correct than we could have imagined or falling off the edge of reality, maybe we can all touch base again, visiting from time to time and see how our perceptions may have changed.

Personally, though I don't support much of what Sarah Palin does, I cringe at the thought of her many supporters suffering disappointment. She represents important values that her followers don't see elsewhere. I am not saying that those values aren't represented elsewhere, I am saying that she is the person whom they identify with. It is always discouraging to feel that you are not represented in government. Many of us understand that all to well and have suffered that discouragement for the eight years before the last election. But our hopes will be tempered by reality as well. We will still have to work hard for what we believe in.

As far as our discussions through blogs, comments and participatory media goes, dialogue via these channels is a still quite the new thing, I expect we will be working the bugs out for some time to come. We can do great good and great harm, perhaps even at the same time if we are not careful. I hope that in the end, we can support each other through our disappointments and cling to the truth, that we are all in this together, whether we agree or not. (Except, perhaps, for Texas, which I have heard recently, may have other ideas. Remember the Alamo!)

So here is a shout out to all my friends at Mudflats, to Celtic Diva, to Shannon Moore and to all the folks at Conservatives4Palin. May we have our wonderful and messy peace some day, and good luck in the battle!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Pause - and Good Reading

I suspect most if not all of the readers who make their way here are Mudflats migrants, but if not, please visit Mudflats to read the letter posted on Easter Sunday. It is from one of the people who has participated in the food drive for rural Alaska. I don't want to give the story away, but get your Kleenex out, and be prepared for a wonderful and moving story.

As we work toward a better world both through positive action and a healthy critique of politics, policies and politicians, I am thankful for today and other reminders to keep the faith.

A Joyous and Blessed Easter to you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bob Poe sides with Alaska Natives in opposition to WAR

Lat week the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Association of Village Council Presidents came out in opposition to Wayne Anthony Ross as Governor Palin's choice to fill the post of Attorney General - and as we just covered in the Who, What? post below, is already being referred to in the Gov's press release as having the AG title.

Bob Poe, who is planning to run for governor of Alaska in 2010 has issued a statement in solidarity with the two Alaska Native organizations.

Here is a portion of his statement:

"The Attorney General is supposed to be Alaska's attorney to represent all Alaskans within the Executive Branch. We have already seen Governor Palin's first Attorney General lean too far to support the Governor's personal position in the matter concerning Commissioner Monegan, why now does she support a new appointment who is likely to broaden the gap between urban and rural Alaska. Isn't it time for the Governor to choose an Attorney General who will represent the needs of all Alaskans?" added Poe.

"In these challenging economic times we should be focused on working together as Alaskans, rural and urban, for our common future," said Poe. "Isn't it time Governor Palin show the leadership to pull Alaskans together, not drive us further apart? Mr. Ross' appointment, unfortunately, will be one that further divides us."

Bob Poe has a website for those who are interested in learning more about his views and positions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sarah Palin's Dangerous Words

Sarah Palin's words are dangerous. The press release she put out in response to the newest ethics complaint against her is misleading and inflammatory. It is essentially a call to arms and her supporters are prepared for the attack. If any amount of research is done, one can see that the ethics complaint has some significant grounds for consideration, (links and more information below) but Governor Palin has cast it in the worst light, depicting it as a totally facetious charge and as a result, the person who filed the complaint is now vulnerable.

Palin's response, similar to calling Obama a 'terrorist' is another case where her words put another person at risk for her own purposes. In both cases, she attempts to make a whole group of people feel threatened by someone that is really only a threat to her ambitions. I think this is the worst thing about Governor Palin and, in my opinion, the reactions of those who are not in her camp need to be extremely measured, clear, consistent and calm. I feel that raising the level of emotional charge around this issue is not at all advisable. We can hope that others who have public standing may rise to the occasion and address the validity of the ethics complaint, or at the very least, the right for a citizen to file such a complaint so that the individual who filed this most recent complaint will not be an isolated voice.

There is a point where any playfulness and joking about Palin's policies and practices in office have to be put aside. The total nonsense in the national press making fun of her Alaska roots and hunting ability, or portraying her as this kind of cute, upcoming and sassy politician all need to be put to rest. The aspect of her personality revealed by her response to this ethics complaints is nothing if not serious.

I will not rehash the complaint here, but you can find it through the link below along with some additional research. This is not intended to be a complete compilation of items related to the complaint, just a few things that showed up. Please investigate further and judge for yourself.

The original ethics complaint:
http://divasblueoasis.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=478
Scroll down the page to find a link to a PDF of the complaint.
-------------------------
New York Times news piece with video on the Iron Dog Race
“Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape”
http://video.nytimes.com/video/playlist/sports/1194811622289/index.html?r=1545#1231545047973
On this video, which shows a clip from the year before Governor Palin became a presence on the national scene, Governor Palin can be seen waving the flag at the end of the race (I think it is the end). She is wearing a long coat, no logos of any kind. She shows up at about 2:40 or so on the tape. Early in the tape the announcer mentions that Palin's new found prominence brought nationwide awareness to the Iron Dog Race.
--------------------------
Numerous pictures showing Governor Palin and others associated with Arctic Cat, her husband's race sponsor, at this year's event all wearing Arctic Cat matching outfits (hopefully these don't get pulled) Just to clarify, the governor was present to preside over portions of the event in the official capacity of her office.
http://www.icelandalaska.com/PHOTOGALLERY/tabid/1075/AlbumID/3196-102/Page/1/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Update: A note on comments
If you made a comment, and it is not published, please be advised of the following-
I will not publish comments that make reference to Governor Palin's family or pregnancies.
I also will not publish comments that are attacks aimed at the individual who filed the ethics complaint discussed in this post.
Thanks

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Help Alaska be represented at the Presidential Inauguration!!

Hello Readers - Please consider helping two Alaska groups to make their way to Washington DC to participate in the inauguration. It would be a shame not to have representation particularly this year, 2009, when Alaska celebrates it 50th Anniversary as a state. We should have a significant presence!!

UPDATE - at last word both of these groups are going to the Inauguration, but could still use a bit of assistance to make the trip easier on them and avoid eating peanut butter and crackers everyday. So, if you are interested - they are still accepting donations and support.

The Palmer Colony High School Marching Band received the minimum amount needed to go on the trip as of Jan 8.

The Suurimmaanitchuat Eskimo Dance Group has purchased their tickets, but are still looking for help to cover remaining expenses. They have a goal of an additional $15,000. They are the only Alaska Native group that is participating. There are elders from their community traveling with them. The group itself is made up of people aged 6 to 84. The memory of this event will live on with the young ones for decades to come and be shared with future generations.

Please consider helping one or both of these groups -

Colony High School -
9550 E. Colony Schools Drive, Palmer, AK 99645 |
907.861.5500 PHONE| 907.861.5509 FAX

Contributions for the Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers can be forwarded to:
Native Village of Barrow
Att: Eunice Brower
Box 1130, Barrow 99723.
For more information, the group can be contacted by e-mail at ebrower@nvbarrow.net or by phone at 907-852-4411.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Will you help encourage Quality NEWS COVERAGE of Alaska?

Please join me in an effort to encourage reporters and media outlets to do news on real issues in Alaska. There has been tremendous coverage of Governor Palin, her candidacy for Vice President and much about her family, personality and new found fame. In the meantime, Alaska has many issues of importance that are rarely seen in the media.

So, rather than writing lengthy blogs about these issues, I would like to encourage you to use your power of the keyboard to encourage news coverage of substantive issues in Alaska. If you see a story that covers real news - such as a recent story in the Wall Street Journal on the Alaska state budget, encourage the writer to follow-up on the success of the budget in making its way through the legislature. In this case, Palin's budget has already gotten a response from a Republican legislator from Anchorage who asked her to redo the budget with a more realistic eye on projected revenues. The reporter didn't mention this in his story, but I am hoping that next time he might.

COMMENTS - are a good place to mention news related issues, especially when the stories center only on topics such as Palin family matters, etc. This is where I have been inserting information on the suicide rate in Alaska (third in the nation), the number of reported forcible rapes (first), or the severe problems of rural Alaska, for example.

I will post quick info tidbits here that you can use as examples if you are willing to join me in this effort. Perhaps we can budge the news coverage to look at the viability of our current administration and what it may mean for the future of Alaska and the country.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pre Election Posts -

I had taken all of these articles down after the election was over, but in light of the new story that has broken about racist jokes circulating on Alaska state government emails, I am putting up several of the original posts as they may yet again be of interest.

I do hope that we are headed to a bright and better day.... and that Alaska will be one of the places that leads the way, not one of the places that causes us to drag our feet and become lost in the haze of narrow thinking and pettiness.

When the first post went up, it was linked from several sites, eventually made its way to the Associated Press, picked up by the Washington Times and was mentioned on NPR. So, I had felt that the mission was accomplished as far as moving the discussion along.

For ongoing coverage of Alaska issues in a well-written blog, I refer you to The Mudflats. For general sanity, I refer you to Factcheck.org. Thanks for reading.